Planned to extended-nurse but burned out at 12 months - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 05-30-2010, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Mamas,

I hesitate to even post this but I don't have anyone IRL to talk to about this so here goes:

So, I've exclusively nursed my LO since birth--no formula, very little pumped milk, nursing all day and night. For the first 10 or so months, I was very enthusiastic. Sure, there were times BFing was inconvenient or frustrating, especially when he was waking to nurse every hour at night for many months. But I kept going b/c I believed in BFing (and most other natural parent ideals) and I managed to maintain a really positive attitude about it.

Now, my LO is 12 months. He's eating more solid foods and only nursing an average of 3 times a day and 2 times during the night. 6 months ago, I would have been jumping for joy about this schedule. But suddenly, I just want to be done with nursing. Every time he wants to do it, I have to suppress waves of impatience and aggravation. I'm so patient with him in all other area of our lives and I'm always outwardly patient with him for nursing. I just hate the feelings of resentment that boil up inside. A week or so ago, I burst into tears in the middle of the night and sobbed to my DP about how sick of BFing I was. DP was shocked b/c I hadn't said anything prior to that. I've stayed silent b/c most of our family members think I'm crazy for all my natural parent ideas so if I did mention that I was reconsidering anything, they'd all jump on the opportunity to voice their many opinions which I have no use for. DP is understanding but I suppose I thought DP would judge me too.

Anyway, I don't want my LO to pick up on my resentment. I feel generally uncomfortable about weaning him onto cow's milk for various reasons, even though that's what the women in my family would advise. I'm sure part of my wanting to wean has to do with feeling pressure to get pregnant again b/c I'm not young and I want to have more kids, and b/c I'm queer and have fertility issues, I'll have to stop BFing so I can take fertility drugs.

I'm sure some women reading this will find me selfish and on some level, I would agree. But I don't know how to control or process these feelings. I feel guilty, conflicted, and tired. (I haven't slept more than 4 hours in a row since before he was born.) I often muse that nursing for 12 months is more than most babies get but then I remind myself that I won't be getting my natural parent gold star if I quit now. (Which is not to say that I don't realize that there are many benefits to extended nursing. I do. But I also feel pressure to keep up the perfect natural parent exterior.)

I don't know what I'm hoping for by posting here except maybe some understanding and advice.

Please no flaming. I feel bad enough.

mom to DS born 5/29/09, DS #2 born 5/2/2011, partner to a PhD (finally!), pleased to be co-sleepin', lovin' our 3 cats and 4 dogs and raisin' our LOs vegetarian.
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#2 of 20 Old 05-30-2010, 04:32 PM
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if you wean now, it would be best to use formula for one more year, not regular milk.

any chance you could pump for the next year and bottle/cup feed? that would be helpful if LO was doing something that bugged you, like gymnastics or twiddling.

also, remember that infancy is all about phases. this phase of being irritated could be over and done with in a few weeks. when my ds1 was about a yr i felt the same way, but didnt encourage weaning. then when he was 17 mos and started to wean i was depressed and began offering periodically and he came right back. when he slowed down again at 24 mos, i didnt offer and he weaned himself peacefully. so his irritating phase ended and we kept nursing til age 2 and i never had to use ABM. just a few thoughts...

Bring back the old MDC
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#3 of 20 Old 05-30-2010, 04:36 PM
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I don't think you're selfish.

You have nursed your child for 12 whole months. That's huge. That's given him health advantages that will never go away. You should be immensely proud of yourself. Some women are happy to nurse longer, and some aren't. In my opinion, it would be much better to wean your 1yo (who isn't nursing exclusively or even a lot) and have a rested, non-resentful mother, than to push yourself to fulfill some idealized version of motherhood.

You have internalized a lot of "natural parent" pressure. It's easy to do in these parts. But you need to make choices based on your individual life, not some fantasy of natural mothering (for which no one gets a gold star, by the way). You have concrete reasons to wean. You shouldn't feel bad about this and no one else should try to make you feel bad, either.

You sound like a good, thoughtful mother. You need to do what's best for yourself.
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#4 of 20 Old 05-30-2010, 06:43 PM
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Yay for making it a year!!!

Not to pressure you one way or the other, totally your decision, but have you given any thought to just perhaps nightweaning only or getting started at a sloooow weaning and by reducing the number of feeding during the day? At that age they are so distracted in the day anyway and easily skip feedings that aren't related to sleep, imo. Or maybe try dropping the time that you dislike the most.
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#5 of 20 Old 05-30-2010, 06:57 PM
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You know, a year is fantastic! If you need to wean, it is OK to do so. It's probably easier at one year than it would be at two or later. Your little one will be fine either way. And I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no natural parenting gold star. If there is, they confiscate it the first time your kid eats an M&M!
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#6 of 20 Old 05-30-2010, 09:23 PM
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I don't think you're selfish at all and I agree that there just isn't any gold star for "perfect" mothering. We have to do what works best for our families, YK? A tiny percentage of kids get ANY breast milk at all at one year, in reality.
That said, I wonder if nightweaning - and some unbroken sleep for a change - might help?
This might be the time for your partner to take on the night time parenting for a while so you can recharge.
If you really feel a need to TTC, though, I understand. I stopped taking domperidone to boost my supply when my son was 18 months because I want to regain my fertility. We nursed for another three months but I made the decision to stop taking it knowing that this was most likely the beginning of the end so you'll get no judgement from me.

Megan, loving her sweet rainbow1284.gif boys, born Aug. 2008 and Feb. 2011, and their sister, born still March 2007 candle.gif
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#7 of 20 Old 05-31-2010, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all the compassionate replies. I agree that night-weaning should be the first step. I've tried discouraging his night sessions by offering other kinds of comfort but always backed off b/c, except for a few instances, he's become hysterical when I don't offer him the breast within a few minutes.

DP and I have discussed me leaving the bed b/c LO generally accepts other forms of comfort from her as long as I'm not there. I've also toyed with the idea of getting him a toddler bed so I can lay on it with him to soothe him to sleep and sneak away. The crib has never really been a hit with him. I try rocking him and putting him down at night but it's 50/50 whether he'll stay there or pop up crying. And he usually always wakes around midnight and I bring him into bed with us. (Which is not a problem for me. I've loved co-sleeping.)

The funny thing is--he used to be a much more irritating nurser: pulling my hair, pinching my face, etc. But these days, he's generally calm though he'll go in for a bite once he's done if I'm not vigilant. He's very clingy lately though b/c we've had his grandmas in town to so that my partner and I can both work more.

Last night, I researched milk alternatives and still feel confused. I feel uncomfortable about cow's milk for ethical reasons (we're former vegans, turned vegetarians) as well as other kinds of animal milks, although we do feed LO dairy cheese and yogurt. I can't give him any nut milk yet b/c he has a possible legume allergy. Soy is out too b/c I've had it affect my thyroid levels in the past and do not trust it in my baby's body. (He's had tofu unintentionally and not shown a reaction even though soy=legume.) Rice milk seems devoid of nutrients. So that leaves hemp, oat, coconut milk and some others I'm not thinking of. Would I really need to supplement with formula if I weaned him before 2 or could I use/rotate any of these milks in addition to his varied diet?

Anyway, thanks again for the support. I was in tears reading your responses b/c I so expected to be lambasted.

mom to DS born 5/29/09, DS #2 born 5/2/2011, partner to a PhD (finally!), pleased to be co-sleepin', lovin' our 3 cats and 4 dogs and raisin' our LOs vegetarian.
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#8 of 20 Old 05-31-2010, 09:05 AM
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I would post over in the vegan forum, I'm sure people have a lot of good info about which types of milks have which nutrients, etc. It seems a lot of people give hemp milk...but I don't know since I haven't gotten to that point yet (my LO is 3 months).

And I also think 12 months is great! Hugs!
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#9 of 20 Old 05-31-2010, 11:36 AM
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I don't really think that formula is necessary if you wean him before 2 years, unless he's just not eating very many solids (which doesn't seem to be the case). I have no idea about the nutritional content of the other milks you mentioned, though, so hopefully someone else can weigh in on that (and posting in the vegan forum would probably be helpful too).

I also second the recommendation to attempt to nightwean (or at least maybe cut down to one feeding at night. I see nothing wrong with a bottle or sippy of water if he's willing to accept that instead.

I don't think its selfish at all to want to wean after a year. But if extended nursing is important to you, I just wanted to let you know that I go through fazes of being DONE with nursing my almost 2 year old DD. But I stick with it for various reasons (I stuck with it around Christmas because it was cold/flu season. I stuck with it a few months ago because I had just given birth to her sibling and she needed to know that I was still available to her. etc.) But each time that I stick it out, I always end up getting back to a place where I'm so glad that I haven't weaned yet. All that said, if it started to affect my relationship with her (if I was resentful, etc.) I would wean. And I do agree with the idea that it would probably be easier to wean a 12 month old than a 2 or 3 year old. But I guess that depends on the child.

s You've done a great job thus far--he's gotten 12 full months of breastmilk and thats so much more than the vast majority of babies get! Whatever you decide, I hope that you are a peace with your decision and don't beat yourself up over it.

student momma to two great girls

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#10 of 20 Old 05-31-2010, 12:08 PM
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Dr Sears has some suggestions for night-weaning which might be appropriate:
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#11 of 20 Old 05-31-2010, 03:25 PM
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I weaned at 16 months because I thought I was going to lose my mind and it was either that or going to a mental institution somewhere. I still feel a little guilty about it, but my DD is just fine and I'm a lot more "okay." I really admire the moms who breastfeed for years and I planned on being one, but when it came down to it, I'm just not.
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#12 of 20 Old 06-01-2010, 02:17 AM
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I agree with a lot of other posts - if you hate it, you should wean. I think the positive biological benefit of breastmilk will be easily outweighed by negative psychological resentment for the baby.

As far as alternative milk to give, have you looked into toddler formulas? They might be a good starting point if you are concerned about nutrient content and balance of other "milks".

As far as night weaning, what I did was to shorten the feeding duration gradually. I was lucky DD was waking up only 1-2x per night, but still needed to night wean! First few times, look at a clock while feeding to get a baseline (10min? or whatever). THen the next few nights, pull baby off at 8 min, then go to 7 min, etc. It worked for me and is not as traumatic as skipping the feeding cold turkey. She was not asleep with shorter feedings but drowsy enough to let me put her back in the crib.

Good luck! Congrats for making it to 1 yr!

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#13 of 20 Old 06-03-2010, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by atlantafemme View Post
So that leaves hemp, oat, coconut milk and some others I'm not thinking of. Would I really need to supplement with formula if I weaned him before 2 or could I use/rotate any of these milks in addition to his varied diet?
What nutrients are you hoping to gain from these alternative milks? There really isn't a milk alternative that's close to cow's or goat's milk unless it's fortified. But if you think he's getting enough calcium from other sources (there's a bit of controversy as to whether or not you can absorb enough from vegetable sources due to the oxalates), then are you just looking for another beverage to feed him?
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#14 of 20 Old 06-03-2010, 12:22 PM
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I slowly started to wean at 12 months. For us, it was about a 6 month process, and it worked very well (two times now). (()) to you!
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#15 of 20 Old 06-03-2010, 12:58 PM
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We use hemp milk for our preschooler because it's one of the fattiest alternative milks and has none of the common allergens. Although I'm not a nutritionist by any stretch of the imagination, if your LO is getting a wide variety of foods, at 1, I don't think formula is an absolute needed.
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#16 of 20 Old 06-03-2010, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, my DS eats plenty of cheese and yogurt but I'd like to offer nondairy options for nutrients similar to those found in animal milk. So far I haven't found 1 nonanimal milk that's similar enough to cow milk but I figure if I offer several nonanimal milks throughout the day, rather than relying on one, he can get something close to what he'd get through cow's milk.

So Delicious coconut milk:
Calories 50
Total Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 5g†
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0g
Sodium 15mg
Potassium 65mg
Total Carbohydrate 1g
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugar 0g
•Vitamin A 10%•Vitamin C 0%

•Calcium 10%•Iron 4%
•Vitamin D 30%•Folate 6%
•Vitamin b12 50%•Magnesium 10%
•Zinc 4%•Selenium 8%

Pacific foods oat milk

Calories 130
Total Fat 2.5g
Saturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 150mg
Potassium 0mg
Total Carbohydrate 24g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 19g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A10%
Vitamin C0%
Vitamin D25%
Riboflavin (B2)30%

Almond and hemp milk look good too but I have to deal with his possible legume allergy first. Anyway- thanks for all your replies. I've started the whole not-offering, not-refusing thing and it's going great.

mom to DS born 5/29/09, DS #2 born 5/2/2011, partner to a PhD (finally!), pleased to be co-sleepin', lovin' our 3 cats and 4 dogs and raisin' our LOs vegetarian.
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#17 of 20 Old 06-03-2010, 01:14 PM
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Welllll, do you want me to talk you out of it?

I weaned one child at 12 mo and I am glad i did. That little window of oppertunity doesnt last long before its really really hard to wean. So if you are going to do it, do it now.

Personally, I think if its no longer enjoyable to you - its time to wean. martyrdom is not a habit you want to get intoo as a mother.
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#18 of 20 Old 06-05-2010, 10:56 AM
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Atlantafemme, personally I think you already got that gold star. You sound like a super loving and caring Mama!
If you wean now, your baby will be fine.
If you don't wean now, your baby will be fine.

Spiralshell -- Mama to David Nathaniel, born October 2009. And so you see I have come to doubt all that I once held as true. I stand alone without belief, the only truth I know is you.
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#19 of 20 Old 06-05-2010, 11:02 AM
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your not selfish you have done such a wonderful job nursing your lo to 12 mths

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#20 of 20 Old 06-05-2010, 11:04 AM
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Atlantafemme, you get a boob-shaped trophy from me for making it to a year! Well done!

As for supplementing, I don't think you need formula either. So long as he's eating a varied diet. With all your research, I'm sure you will come up with what's right for your family.

Good luck with weaning.

Oh, and I completely understand about not wanting to say anything out loud 'against' your own Natural Parenting ideas ... it just invites the "I told you so's" from all directions. Listen to your gut, get your support from your DP and other mindful mamas, and leave the naysayers to their own crackpot ideas.

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